It was a dramatic end to the League One title race at Griffin Park on Saturday, all of which was sparked by a penalty kick in the last few seconds of the match. In case you missed the bizarre sequence of events, here’s what happened, plus our top seven seven penalty kick dramas…
With less than a minute of the game remaining and the scoreline at 0-0, Doncaster Rovers were looking at being promoted as League One runners-up while Brentford would have to settle for third place and the lottery of the Play-Offs. But then the Bees were given a penalty in the dying seconds; if Marcello Trotta scored, the teams would switch places and it would be Rovers who missed out on promotion in the most heartbreaking of fashion.
Up steps Trotta to clinch promotion. The ball smashes off the underside of the crossbar, bounces out, pinballs around in a goalmouth scramble for a few seconds before being launched out to Billy Paynter on the right wing. Heartbreak for Bees fans, joy for Rovers. Paynter sprints half the length of the pitch and squares to James Coppinger who slots the ball into an open goal, sparking wild scenes in the away end. Owing to the match between Bournemouth and Tranmere having finished 0-0, this goal hands Rovers the League One title.
To make matters worse, furious Brentford boss Uwe Rosler told reporters that Trotta wasn’t even the designated penalty taker and that the matter would have to be dealt with “internally”.
In an unbelievable 20 seconds of football, Doncaster had gone from automatic promotion to League One winners, via the Play-Offs – and all because of a penalty kick. You can’t script drama like that and it inspired me to bring together a collection of seven other penalty kick related dramas:
December 1982: Ajax vs Helmond Sport
Perhaps one of the most famous penalties in the football world, Johan Cruyff stepped up to take a spot kick for his club Ajax, only to surprise us all by passing to his colleague Jesper Olsen. Olsen drew the goalie off his line, before passing back to Cruyff who had the easiest of finishes.
It may seem tame watching it today, but back then it was highly controversial. Few people had seen this before and people weren’t even sure if it was allowed within the rules of the game.
Cruyff will forever be associated with this bizarre style of penalty kick (surely it’s easier to just shoot, isn’t it?) but did you know that he wasn’t the first to attempt it? In June 1957, Rik Coppens and André Piters successfully pulled off the exact same stunt for Belgium in a World Cup Qualifier against Iceland, which you can see in the clip below at 2:35.
October 2005: Arsenal vs Manchester City
As we have seen with Cruyff and Coppens, the two man penalty kick looks like a work of genius when it all goes according to plan. But who remembers the farce at Highbury when Manchester City lost to Arsenal in 2005? With the score at 1-0, ironically thanks to a Robert Pires penalty, the Frenchman found himself taking a second spot kick in the match.
Who knows what went through his mind before the kick? Perhaps it was arrogance or maybe he was just nervous and began to second guess himself, but one thing is for sure, he might a right old mess of this penalty. Pires, in an attempt to gently play the ball to one side for the oncoming Thierry Henry, brushed his studs over the top of the ball causing it to move ever so slightly, while chaos ensued all around the penalty spot. Having already touched it, he was unable to play the ball again, allowing Distin to nick the ball away, prompting much mirth in the stands and ensuring that Pires will feature in “Goals and Gaffes” highlights compilations for all eternity.
April 1977: Derby County vs Manchester City
Almost as farcically as the Pires penalty, but with a much happier ending (for Derby fans at least), a spot kick in a match at Derby’s Baseball Ground became famous because the pitch was in such a terrible state that the penalty spots weren’t even visible.
The lack of markings led to a dispute about whether or not the ball was correctly placed ahead of the penalty kick, awarded for a trip on Derby’s Archie Gemmill, which could only be solved by the groundsman fetching a tape measure and a pot of white paint. I’m not even joking.
Watch the drama unfold from 0:52 in this clip, where the action is described beautifully by John Motson (who I am pretty sure made his commentating debut in another match involving Derby County, the 1899 FA Cup Final).
August 2004: Serbia and Montenegro vs Tunisia
Nobody likes a referee that makes himself the centre of attention and on August 17th 2004, nobody liked Mr Charles Ariiotima of Tahiti. After awarding a penalty to Tunisia which was successfully converted, he ordered it to be retaken. And then he ordered another retake. And another…
The penalty kick was taken six times in total, due to various infringements from both sets of players. Absolute madness.
This particular entry, which can be seen in the video below, narrowly made the list ahead of this one, which was retaken three times and saved on all three occasions – a feat worthy of the chap in the next entry…
May 1986: Steaua București vs FC Barcelona
Former Steaua București goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam will forever be associated with penalty drama, thanks to his performance in the 1986 European Cup Final that earned him the nickname “the Hero of Seville”. The match had finished 0-0 after Extra Time and Duckadam would go on to save all four of Barcelona’s penalty kicks, a feat that had never been seen before at any level, let alone in a European Cup final.
The legendary ‘keeper played 80 times for Steaua București and in one particular cup match for the Romanian side, he scored the only goal of his career – a penalty kick, would you believe – against AFC Progresul Bucuresti.
You can re-live the whole of the epic European Cup final penalty shootout, complete with supremely short shorts and dodgy moustaches, here.
July 2010: Uruguay vs Ghana
Always in the news for the wrong reasons, the infamous arm biting lunatic and part-time Freddie Mercury impersonator Luis Suarez first gained notoriety on these shores during the 2010 World Cup where, with the match locked at 1-1 deep into Extra Time, he deliberately handled the ball to deny a certain goal, giving away a penalty and earning a red card in the process.
Had he not done so, his Uruguay team were almost certainly going to be knocked out of the tournament, but this gave them the tiniest hope of a reprieve. But surely it didn’t matter anyway? Karma was bound to intervene and ensure that Asamoah Gyan scored the resultant penalty to deservedly send Ghana through and prove that cheats never prosper? Right?
You know the rest. Gyan dramatically smashed his penalty against the crossbar, the game ended level and the players were forced to endure even more penalties, with Ghana eventually crashing out 4-2 in the shootout. Suarez celebrated the penalty miss wildly and claimed after the match, without a hint of irony, that, “I made the save of the tournament. The ‘Hand of God’ now belongs to me.”
May 2012: Al Nasr vs Sepahan
If the Suarez debacle was a low point in sporting fair play, then the match between Al Nasr vs Sepahan in Dubai during the 2012 AFC Champions League features somewhere at the other end of the scale. Al Nasr kicked the ball into touch to allow Sepahan defender Helal Saeed to be seen to by the physio, -but a mix up upon returning possession to Al Nasr led to Xhevahir Sukaj opportunistically attempting to go round the goalkeeper, only to be brought down in the area.
The referee overlooked the circumstances and controversially awarded a penalty, plus a straight red card for the unfortunate ‘keeper. But rather than punish Al Nasr even further, Omid Ebrahimi sportingly “missed” the penalty on purpose, by tapping the ball forwards and allowing the substitute goalkeeper to collect.
Even though Sepahan did the right thing after the farcical penalty decision, they couldn’t undo the sending off and made their numerical advantage count, eventually running out 3-0 winners.
Can you think of any penalty related drama that we missed? Share your stories below.